University Commons Morning time

In Spring 2014, Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon, PhD, announced plans for the first major construction project on campus in more than a decade. In August 2015, the University Commons officially opened for business and a dedication ceremony was held in September 2015.

“Recently, Carlow has raised more money than at any other period of time in its history,” said Mellon, during her presidential address at her installation as the tenth president. “Funding is nearly complete for the signature project of this campaign: The University Commons.”

The University Commons project — Carlow University's first LEED certified eligible building — involved the complete renovation of the 82,500 square foot Grace Library Building on the Oakland campus, turning it into the center of campus life and learning at Carlow University. Construction began in August 2014 and was completed in August 2015.

The University Commons integrates an array of faculty and student services that support student and faculty learning and collaboration. Amenities include three computer labs, a café, a state-of-the-art home for the Center for Digital Learning and Innovation, study spaces, and informal, shared workspaces for students.

University Commons Stairway
The completed University Commons interior

 University Commons Donor Wall 2015
The University Commons donor wall

According to Mellon, The University Commons will play a vital role in educating students, combining elements of teaching, learning, research, health and wellness, collaboration, and technological support. “At Carlow University, it is our commitment to our students that we will engage with them in transforming lives and transforming our world. The University Commons will be a transformation in the learning environment for our students. It promotes optimal student learning and the digital learning environment to deliver the 21st century learning for our students to succeed in today’s world. It features innovative collaborative centers for student learning and academic support.”

Watch a video of Carlow's nomination for the Master Builders Association awards 

The University decided to renovate and repurpose the former Grace Library space, rather than construct a new building on the site because it is an effective and cost-efficient way to meet the need for a changing learning environment. By transforming an older space to suit modern needs, the University is also being mindful of issues of sustainability and conservation.

Check out this video to see how the University Commons transformed from the groundbreaking in August 2014 to August 2015. 


The University Commons includes space for:

Student Affairs:

Student Government and Campus Activities Board
Student clubs
Office of Student Affairs

Learning Commons:

Library, individual and group study areas, classrooms
Mercy Center (Campus Ministry, Mercy Center for Service)
Experiential Learning (Global Learning, Career Development)
Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success (tutoring and academic support)
Center for Digital Learning and Innovation (digital teaching support for faculty)
Hopkins Communications Lab (digital learning support for students) 

Social Life and Public Access:

Art gallery


Post Office

Leadership Offices:


Carlow hired three premiere Pittsburgh firms to lead the renovation of University Commons. The architect for the project is Maclachlan, Cornelius, and Filoni. The construction manager is Massaro Corp., and Kolano Design developed the signage and addressing way-finding challenges. 

University Commons Hours

Commons Café, 2nd floor
Monday-Thursday 7:30am-9pm
Friday 7:30am-5:00pm

Information Desk (Help! Services), 2nd floor
Monday-Friday 8am-10pm

Center for Academic Achievement, 4th floor
Monday-Thursday 9am-7pm
Friday 9am-4pm

Bookstore, 1st floor
Monday-Thursday 8am-6pm
Friday 8am-2pm
Saturday 10am-2pm

Library, 3rd floor
Monday-Thursday 8am- Midnight (after Labor Day)
Friday 8am-9pm
Saturday 8am-4pm
Sunday 12:30pm-4:30pm

Chapel, 5th floor
24 hour access with your Carlow ID when school is in session

Student Organizations and Open Social/Study Space, 1st and 2nd floors
24 hour access with your Carlow ID during the academic year